Linux Partitioning Myths

I was reading this article at TechRepublic, and couldn’t believe the partitioning structure that was suggested in the so-called Linux 101 article.

For one thing, setting aside 500MB for your /boot partition is overkill to say the least. Here’s only where your kernels are parked and used only when booting up. My current kernel is only about 1.3MB big. So in a 500MB /boot partition, I can store almost 384 similarly sized kernels!

Another myth that’s being kept alive in the article is the “swap size should be double your RAM” thing. I’m using a PC with 512MB at home, and my swap (384MB) has never been touched. The samba server that I manage at work, has 1GB RAM, and a similarly sized swap partition (was pre-configured by a vendor) and on average uses only 60MB swap at any given time. Mind you, this server not only serves as our samba server, but also a few other services (which I can’t name specifically due to my NDA restrictions). My “test server” at work has 512MB RAM and a swap partition of 500MB… which also, has never been touched.

The fact is, with modern computers, you will rarely need swap space over 200MB. On desktops (ie. non-servers) with 512MB RAM or more, you’ll most likely will never touch your swap partition at all.

Overall, I find the suggestion to actually make separate partitions for /boot, /usr, /var, /home, etc. to be total waste of time for a desktop PC. By doing so, you’re assuming that you’ll know to a high extent what sort of space requirements your desktop will need. Believe me, you won’t! So save yourself tons of time and just allocate whatever space you want for your Linux installation to / (the root directory) and let the system manage itself.

Bear in mind that this is not my recommendation for all Linux installation but only for desktops. For servers, you’d definitely want to separate the partitions, especially for /var, /boot, /home, and /etc. Furthermore, these partitions (with the exception of /boot) should be mounted on seperate physical drives whenever possible, especially if you’re using hot-swappable storage. It will make your life easier to restore backups, and save you tons of time in cases of hard drive failures and related anomalies.

And that, ladies and gentlemen… was my Linux rant of the day :P. Thank you very much and have a nice day.

2 responses to “Linux Partitioning Myths”.

  1. fjfghj Says:

    I have a computer that I use as a desktop and server at the same time!

  2. Site Admin Azmeen Says:

    Hi fjfghj,

    But is it primarily a server or a desktop?

    A PC where you primarily use as a workstation and have a local installation of Apache (for example), would still, primarily be a desktop.

    When I use the word “server” in my post, it means that the primary function of the computer is to provide services, ie. samba, httpd, ftpd, etc.